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Eritrea: "The paranoid regime"


National Service in Eritrea is not comparable to a military or civil service as it is practiced elsewhere in other countries. The National Service is a form of forced labor or slavery that is run by the State. Officially, conscripts are mobilized for the purpose of defending the country, but in reality they are assigned to work for the government. They are also assigned to work for companies owned by the ruling party be it in agricultural activities, in infrastructure construction, etc. They are used as labor by the regime and are treated as dispensable resources.



Interview with Dan Connell: Political prisoners

What is in your mind the best and most important thing the E.U. and Sweden can do to try to win Dawit Isaak's freedom? What is the worst thing they can do to try to win his release?

D.C.: I frankly doubt they will release anyone as whoever gets out will be able to tell the story of prison conditions and who else is in them today.... I also worry that focusing on a single political prisoner sets up a situation where the character and practice of the regime is no longer the issue. At this point, with Isaias’s grip on power more tenuous than it has been in decades, it is important to reach out (quietly) to the next tier of leaders to emphasize how important it is for political prisoners to be released if Eritrea’s future relations with the international community are to improve. This is also important to convey in the public sphere as a general principle, so that potential opposition to Isaias whom we don't know about—for example, second-tier officers in the EDF (Eritrean Defense Force) —get the message. The worst thing to do would be to allow the regime and its inner circle to think the world has forgotten about them.



Interview with Mr. John Stauffer, president of the America Team for displaced Eritreans.

The following is an excerpt of accumulated questions sent by interested Eritreans at various times to the editorial section of the America Team to be answered by Mr. John Stauffer, president of the America Team for Displaced Eritreans. Mr. John Stauffer, 70, is an American who since 2004 has been working continuously to help asylum-seeking Eritreans get refuge and assist them in living a stable life wherever they are relocated. Mr. Stauffer is a retiree after 38 years of honorable work in U.S. industry, and has after retirement dedicated all his time working day and night to help Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers with advocacy and covering pertinent expenses often with his own resources. No wonder, today, many Eritreans call him the “father indeed of Eritreans in need.” Direct to the questions:



'90 Interview of Meles Zenawi: on Independence, Isaias and Eritreans

PBH: Would you expect the EPLF to participate in a provisional government in Addis Abeba?

MZ: We don’t know. We think they could play a constructive role. We would really like to see Eritrea retain a relationship to Ethiopia, but we don’t know if Isaias can work out the situation to make this possible. Our own position is very delicate. We have to have good relations with Eritreans, so we recognize their right to self-determination, going as far as independence if they want it. We endorse their proposal for a referendum because we don’t think there is any other solution for the situation that has developed. But we really hope that Eritrea can remain part of a federated Ethiopia. I agree with what you have written about the advantages for the Eritreans themselves.



Appalling Work Conditions at Bisha-Nevsun Mining Project, Eritrea

So far, what the informants have to say has corroborated much of what have been suspected for a long time – and more. The story that is emerging is a story of two different groups of workers : one mostly foreign, well-fed, well-quartered, well paid, well insured and working in a safe environment; and the other group: natives, poorly fed, poorly quartered, poorly paid, overworked, nominally insured and working in an unsafe environment. But this, by itself, doesn’t say much. It is only by categorizing the workers in the different strata that they have been put into that we see how the regime is exploiting the workers in every way imaginable to maximize its profit...

(Photo: Bisha-Nevsun Project, Eritrea)



Selam Newspaper: Interview with Yosief Ghebrehiwet on the Youth Conference

Selam: What do you think the outcome of the youth conference will contribute to the struggle of the Eritrean people against PFDJ?

Yosief: If there is anything that the PFDJ fears, it is the gatherings of the youth – that alone is worth pondering about. It is on the defensive in a turf that it has always thought it dominated. Now, its fear is that this defense line might soon be drawn inside Eritrea. Anything we can do to push that line all the way to Asmara would be worth the fight – and the youth demos all over the world are a push towards that direction.



Selam Newspaper: Interview with Daniel G.Michael on the Youth Conference

Selam. How do you see the youth organization or movement in 5 years from now?

Daniel: I sincerely hope that in fairly a short time the grassroots youth movements around the world are able to inspire their brothers and sisters back home and bring about the badly needed change. In 5 years time, I hope life in Eritrea goes back to normal so that the youth can plan their future, start businesses, concentrate on their studies and serve their families and country. For that to happen, we must all help end repression right away.



Q + A with Eritrean Youth Leader Daniel G. Mikael

"Our main target is the Eritrean people inside the country, change is coming soon"
Daniel G. Mikael

Mass demonstrations in protest against repression in Eritrea will be staged in major cities around the world during the last week of this month. In addition to rallies, hundreds activists are to hold a conference in Washington D.C. not only to celebrate Eritrea’s independence but also to reflect, evaluate and chart out plans on how to expedite the desired democratic change in the country. Michael Abraha had a quick online talk with Daniel G. Mikael - Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the Youth Conference.  Daniel also heads up the Interim Board EYC-EYSC (Eritrean Youth for Change – Eritrean Youth Solidarity for Change). He first points to the central theme of the D.C. conference, May 25-27.



Interview with Mr. Atem Yaak Atem, South Sudan’s Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting

Barely ten months into independence, South Sudan is in a bloody border conflict with Sudan in the north over oil sharing and demarcation issues. The Juba government says Sudan is reluctant to demarcate its border having lost t of their two thirds of their shared oil as a result of the independence. Juba says it is fighting to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity. Each side is reportedly arming proxy militias to destabilize the other. Reporter Michael Abraha got hold of South Sudan’s Deputy Information Minister, Mr. Atem Yaak Atem in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, where he led a South Sudanese delegation to an East African conference last week (May 1-2) on “National Security and the Right to Information”. Here are excerpts from the interview.



Interview with Professor Yebio WoldeMariam

It is very sad to see the country lose its youth in such a dramatic fashion. Mind you the Eritrean youth has carried the brunt of the wars that has been raging in the region for half a century. We have lost many young, educated, able bodied, skilled and potential inventors, producers, scientists, and artists to our detriment.  Instead of rebuilding and restoring what is lost we continue with the path of more egregious destruction.  I am sure this is not news to the EPLF as it is a witness to the destruction of our youth for decades. That is why it does not bother the leadership of the mayhem that is occurring under its nose.



Interview with Wolde Yesus Ammar

Interview:  Wolde Yesus Ammar, Foreign Affairs Chief of the Eritrean People’s Democratic Front, EPDP

Journalist Michael Abraha called upon Wolde Yesus Ammar in Switzerland to have his views and analysis on the Eritrea sanctions, Ethio-Eritrea relations and why EPDP remains outside of the new Eritrean National Democratic Assembly – largest political coalition embracing dozens of Eritrean political parties, factions, civic organizations, intellectuals and religious personalities. Wolde Yesus begins by evaluating the current Eritrean state of affairs and the struggle for freedom and democracy?



Inteview with Dr. Yosuf Berhanu

As Dictator Isaias Afewerki prepares to give his recycled New Year message of gloom, his democratic opponents in exile have been huddling together in a bid to bring hope and freedom to the Eritrean people. They held their first Congress last month in Hawassa, Ethiopia, and formed a new 127-member coalition to be headed by Dr. Yosuf Berhanu – veteran fighter and physician. Michael Abraha recently sat with him in Addis Ababa and first put to him what the National Congress has achieved?



Q+A with Ahmed Nasser – Chairman of Eritrean National Salvation Front

Ahmed Nasser is one of the most tested, secular and multi-lingual (Tigre, Saho, Tigrinya, Arabic, English and Amharic languages) Eritrean leaders. Of Saho ethnic background, Ahmed Nasser has devoted all his life to the struggle for liberty and democracy in Eritrea.  He chaired the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) from 1975 to 1982 and later headed the breakaway ELF-Revolutionary Council from ‘82 to ’95. Ahmed is now leader of the Eritrean National Salvation Front which is dedicated to the immediate dislodgment of what he calls Isaias’s shameless despotism. I sat with him at the Haile (Ghebreselassie) Resort Hotel in Hawassa for a brief interview on the state of the Eritrean opposition and on the Eritrean National Congress.



Interview with Eyob Bahta - Part II (Video)

From what was happening in the prison when you were there, in what kind of circumstances do you think the prisoners find themselves at the moment? I mean for those who are there – the remaining 20, like you said?

The way I see it, and from my experience, I don’t expect the prisoners will be allowed to leave the prison. It is how the system was working and I don’t expect it will change how it operates. Unless there is pressure from elsewhere, I don’t think they [implying the government] will take the initiative to release them. If they can keep them without any due process of law for so many years while the prisoners are dying of illness and much worse and instead of providing them with medical service but waiting for them to die, I don’t think anyone will come out alive.



Introduction: Eritrea - Ten Years of Torture

What you are about to read is a transcript of an interview given to Human Rights Concern - Eritrea by Mr Eyob Bahta who was a prison guard from September 2001 until his escape from Eritrea in 2010.

The story begins on the 17th of September 2001 in Embat’kala prison, and moves on to Era’Ero prison where the horror still continues to this day.

Who are the prisoners and what is their crime?



Interview with Eyob Bahta - Part I (VIDEO)

Were there any prisoners who were seriously sick or died in Embat’kala prison?

Yes, three died in Embat’kala. The first who died was Fessehaye (Joshua). He was a journalist, I think. He committed suicide. He hanged himself. General Okbe Abraha tried to commit suicide by trying to cut himself with broken glass. He was given medical attention. He recovered. But he was suffering from asthma and died about six months later. Mohammed Sheriffo fell sick and died. These three died in Embat’kala.


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